This has truly been a legislative session like no other. We conducted our entire legislative process in a building that was closed to the public, with all public hearings limited only to Zoom.
Despite these limitations, we passed some good legislation regarding treatment options for those addicted to opioids, a bill requiring background checks for camp counselors and youth sports coaches, and consumer-friendly regulations for the third-party energy market. We also negotiated bipartisa legislation that will aid businesses and municipalities as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there were far more bad bills passed this session. The legislature passed several bills that severely limit parental rights, which I am strongly opposed to. Two stark examples include a bill that allows students to access unlimited mental health visits at school without parental knowledge or consent and another that allows minors to receive medical treatment while permitting insurance companies to withhold that information from parents.
It was also voted, in a special session, to legalize and commercialize the adult use of marijuana. While many citizens in the state are in favor of this concept, the bill we passed extends way farther than that. It is more focused on equity, giving priority access for licenses to sell to those in certain geographic areas and putting the majority of its excise tax revenues in the hands of an unelected “social equity.”
The bill also puts limitations on our police that could severely impact public safety.
As this was a budget year, the legislature also passed the state budget for the upcoming biennium.
Proponents claim that this was a no tax increase budget but considering the additional taxes and fees we passed (including the mileage tax on trucks), that is simply not the case. Furthermore, we have positioned ourselves atop a dangerous fiscal cliff by increasing spending using federal aid from COVID-19 that we will need to rectify in the future.
I would like to close on a positive note. Due to the outcry of the public through social media and “no tax” rallies held across the state, the proposed tax on gasoline was not voted on or included in the budget. Thank you to everyone who attended these rallies and sent in your comments — your voices were loud, and the governor and majority had no choice but to listen.